Welcome To My Blog

Weekends are for wandering Wisconsin. That's what Rick, my guy, and I do. Occasionally we wander during the week, too. Sometimes we just drop in on other people's lives.

This blog is my way of sharing where we've been, neat places and things to do that we've found.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Centennial and Cake

It's hard to believe that in our state which is more than 150 years old there are still communities only celebrating their centennials. One of these was Iron Ridge. And we were there to help the village's nearly 1,000 residents bring in the second century of their existence. But it's not like the community is really that young. The first settlers to the area came in 1847. It just took 66 years and several name changes before Iron Ridge was incorporated as a village in 1913.

Four iron mines were active in the Iron Ridge area from the 1850s to 1915 producing millions of tons of mid- to high-grade iron ore. Thus the name of the village.

Weekend centennial festivities included a car show but when we arrived at Fireman's Park, we only saw about a half dozen classic vehicles. The rain probably kept people away. So we headed to the village hall/police station/library where we viewed a display of centennial memorabilia and a scaled village made of Legos.

The railroad station. Back in 1913 there was probably a lot of activity here. 
The re-creation....
and the original.

Something about the message of the bank's 1920 greeting caught my eye. When was the last time you received a Christmas letter from the bank's cashier? I suspect that back in the day the cashier was probably more like a branch manager.

We stayed at Ledge Park and had company for Saturday dinner. Rick found a recipe for making cake in an orange. The cake batter is poured into a hollowed out orange, wrapped in foil, and baked over the fire. Thanks to Amanda who scraped out the oranges and her dad, Paul, who did such a nice job with the fire to create just the right bed of embers. Yummy. Definitely a dessert to make again. However, next time we'll put a bit of chocolate in the cake batter and use another layer of foil to wrap the oranges. It's also a good idea to have mixed fruit or fresh-squeezed orange juice for breakfast the next morning. Wouldn't want all those good orange insides to go to waste.

The foil protects the orange from burning too badly. We baked our
oranges for 15 minutes and the cake was done perfectly.
The cake batter is simple: 4 oz. butter or margarine, 4 oz.
sugar, 4 oz. self-rising flour, and 2 eggs. Cream the
butter and sugar, beat in the eggs, add the flour, and mix
until smooth. Makes enough to fill 5 medium sized oranges.

A storm blew in later in the evening but we managed to take down the trailer's awning and secure everything under cover before the wind and the rain began. Once again, I missed my opportunity to take a picture of the trailer with its new awning. Next time.

We're looking forward to the first week in July when we will explore east central and central Wisconsin. And maybe try some more new campfire recipes.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Close to Home - Washington County

It's June Dairy Month. One of the events that we encouraged participants in our "Birds & Bovines" vintage trailer rally last weekend (June 7-9) to take advantage of was Washington County's Breakfast on the Farm near Allenton. The farm was only about 11 miles from Ledge Park, overlooking the Horicon Marsh, where our rally was held. The breakfast was an opportunity to show Rick's son, daughter-in-law, and grandsons, who had joined us for the weekend,  something of my past. (I grew up on a dairy farm in northern Wisconsin.)

Sunset Farms has hosted the June Dairy Breakfast in the past.
To host, a farm needs LOTS of parking.
Kari, Rick's daughter-in-law, remarked that there were enough people at the
Dairy Breakfast for a mini county fair!
And speaking of county fairs, Washington County's Fairest
of the Fair was at the Breakfast promoting the upcoming
Washington County Fair that is scheduled for the end of July.
I'm not sure now many thousands of pancakes were served, but the cooks know how to keep a hungry crowd fed.
It takes a strong and steady hand to keep flipping
so many pancakes. (photo courtesy of Jon Vrzal)
Of course we had to look at the cows. These were of special interest to Rick's grandson, Kellen.

Breakfast on the Farm wouldn't be complete without a few vintage tractors on display.

A variety of groups throughout Washington County, including the Richfield Historical Society, had exhibits in one of the farm's buildings.
Nothing says America's Dairyland like a cow to relieve one's stress!
Breakfast on the Farm is one of those events that occur in just about every county in Wisconsin during the month of June. Check the schedule of breakfasts for the rest of the month and maybe you'll find one close to you. Many communities also host June Dairy breakfasts but not necessarily on the farm. In my hometown of Sheldon, a dairy breakfast was part of the community fair that was the same weekend as our rally.

This past Saturday Rick and I checked out the Farmer's Market in downtown West Bend, the county seat of Washington County. The downtown merchants are particular about the vendors filling Main Street so the market is only open from 7:30 - 11:00 a.m. However, as we later learned from Ron who was selling, among other things, garlic plants, there's another market in West Allis on Saturday afternoons that many of the West Bend vendors move to. We picked up snap peas, spinach, smoked salmon, several packages of brats, and tomato and pepper plants at the market.
Flowering plants were abundant at the West Bend Farmers' Market.
We met a couple from LaClare Farms in Pipe, WI (on the east side of Lake Winnebago). They were selling varieties of goat cheese made with the milk produced by the 450 goats on the farm. We plan to visit the retail shop and farm when we are on vacation in that part of Wisconsin in early July.

While the West Bend market isn't nearly the size of Madison's Dane County Farmers' Market on the Capitol Square, it does have a lot of variety - and Madison prices!

The Wisconsin Soup Company is located in Wauwatosa.
This piece of "living art" was offered by Upland Springs
Floral from Adell WI.
Oftentimes we don't have to wander far from home to find something interesting to do on the weekend. We'll miss the best activities right in our own backyards if we don't look for them.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

An Alternate Parade of Homes

A week in advance of the Parade of Homes in my community where new homes are showcased by area builders, Historic Madison Inc. presented its 30th Alternate Parade of Homes. It's a chance to see how nice it can be to live in historic neighborhoods in older homes. Many of the homes on this parade could fit into the garages of the new homes that are built today! 

In fact, one of the homes on the Alternate Parade was, indeed, the "garage" of its day. 

This home, set back from the street, was originally a carriage house built in 1911. The sandstone on the house was recovered from the ruins of the Capitol building which burned in 1904. The builder was a realtor who was involved in developing much of Madison's east side. The plans called for a house to be built in front of the carriage house but plans fell through. I was delighted to find that a former colleague of mine has lived in this home for the past 30 years.
The large door on the left, now the home's entrance, was
where the horses pulled in the carriage.
To give them more space, the current owners of the
carriage house raised the roof on the side a few years ago.

One of the newer homes on the Parade was this stone-veneer house constructed in 1936. This engineer who built this house used advanced construction techniques including steel I-beam supports, internal hot-air distribution systems, and rock wool insulation. One of the neatest features in the home was the dining room table made from a red elm taken down in 2010 as a result of contracting Dutch elm disease.

A fabulous metal sculpture stands on the stump of the elm tree.
My first thought was that it was created by Dr. Evermor, the sculptor from Baraboo.
This bird was created by one of his students.
By building a new garage and landscaping the back yard, the owners of this home built in 1922 took advantage of every inch of the small lot on which their home sits.

I liked how many people in this neighborhood turn small yards into beautiful gardens. If there isn't much yard for grass, why have any grass at all? No mowing around this Parade home.

Much of the original woodwork is in this 1915 home.  The open front porch
was converted into a music room. Lots of pine paneling in one of the upstairs
bedrooms with decorative details incorporating the knots in the pine boards.
The use of recycled materials is evident in many of the Alternate Parade homes. The floor by the front door of this home was comprised of recycled clean bricks enameled in multi-colors.

This home's owner has installed a Little Free Library in the front yard.
This Colonial Revival home was built in 1908 by Frank Riley who is considered to be one of Madison's premier architects. He worked in Boston and New York before beginning his practice in Madison. 

A Madison landmark, this home was built by Riley for his parents. The superb details and gracious properties are hallmarks of his work. The home is for sale. A jewel for anyone who appreciates a historic home. But don't be scared off by the ghost that previous owners have said haunts the house!
I doubt I'll be looking at any new homes in this year's Parade that begins on Saturday. The historic homes have so much more character. However, I'll have to wait until 2015 for the next Alternate Parade.